As someone who value and regard freedom of expression as essential in any modern and vibrant society, I join other Malaysians who are concerned with the amendment to the Evidence Act 1950 of this country seeking to repress this freedom.
The Internet Black Out day on 14 August might be small but it is big in its representation of widespread resentment against such a bad law seen to have been formulated in haste and most likely in bad faith.
It was therefore a welcome move by the Prime Minister to re look at the implications of the new law here and protect the interests of the ordinary Malaysian internet users. Unfortunately, the “committee” (read cabinet) had discussed the amendment last Wednesday as directed by Najib and decided to maintain it here citing a legality angle on the basis that it had been passed by Parliament and (speedily) gazetted into law!
It is interesting to speculate on the speed at which the Parliament passed this amendment in April this year considering the General Election is imminently near. Who do they want to snuff out? The answer seems obvious but in the process ordinary Malaysian internet users could find themselves hauled up to court for something they did not post and under circumstances beyond their control.
Rais Yatim, the much-despised Minister of Information,Communications and Culture said anyone who was subject to the charge under Section 114 A would have the right to rebut in the court of law. What he forgets is, how many ordinary internet users have the means to pay for lawyers to defend themselves? He is talking, as always, from the pedestal, big, loud and seethingly arrogant.
The Minister also sounded smug as if telling the PM that the amendment has been cast in stone. And that there should not be any “political afterthought“. But in life, Mr Rais, there is always a “U” turn. Even Rais himself had left UMNO once and joined SEMANGAT 46, a short-lived political party led by the Malaysian ex-Minister of Finance ,Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, has later (as a seeming political afterthought) rejoined UMNO Baru whose leaders he swore, at one time, he had burnt bridges with!
Incidentally, shouldn’t the amendment, owing to its serious repercussions on individual’s rights be publicly discussed by various bodies, government and non-governmental, before being brought up to the Parliament for final debate? I remember in the eighties, during Mahathir’s era, the public were “consulted” on the proposed abolition of the hereditary Rulers’ immunity to prosecution before being debated and passed in Parliament.
Truly, we, the people elect the government, let us show who are in charge……pouvoir de l’electorat.